How long should a bicycle chain last?

Is your bicycle chain worn out?

Bicycle chains are made up of a few parts – pins, rollers, inner plates and outer plates. The pitch of bicycle chains (the distance between chain pins) is 1/2 inch. As the chain wears out it gets longer. This is due to the holes in which the pins are inserted in the inner plates, getting bigger.

No, the chain itself can’t “stretch”.

Once the chain has become 1% longer than when it was new, it’s properly worn out. When the chain gets longer, the pitch of the chain changes and this causes irreparable damage to the cogs in the cassette and the chainrings.

Replace the chain once it has reached 0.75%.

Use a simple chain measuring tool, also known as a chain-checker.

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Your chainrings and cassette should last at least 3 chains, if not 5, IF you’re good at replacing the chain when it starts to wear. If you let the chain run past 1% you’ll most likely have to replace the chain rings and cassette as the new chain will slip over the teeth of worn cassettes and chainrings.

For more in-depth knowledge around how to maintain your bicycle and drivetrain components, consider attending our Basic Bicycle Repair course, held monthly at the PwC Bike Park in Bryanston, Johannesburg.